“Bono reveals he always wears his sunglasses because of glaucoma” – The Telegraph, 17 October 2014

We could never quite decided whether or not Bono misunderstood the function of sunglasses, but it turns out – as revealed on The Graham Norton Show – that he’s been suffering with glaucoma for the last 20 years. If you’re not really sure what that means, read our quick guide to glaucoma below:

What is it?

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases where the optic nerve, which connects your eye to your brain, is damaged by the pressure of the fluid inside your eye.

The eye is nourished by fluid that circulates within the eye. This drains through the ‘angle’ of the eye between your iris and your cornea. If you have glaucoma your angle can be ‘open’ or ‘closed’. There are two main types of glaucoma: chronic glaucoma, which happens slowly and is the most common type, and acute glaucoma which happens quickly when the angle becomes blocked.

Who gets it?

Glaucoma is more common in people who are over forty, with people of African Caribbean descent being up to six times more likely to develop chronic open angle glaucoma, and developing it approximately ten years earlier than white people. People of east Asian or south Asian origin are more likely to develop closed angle glaucoma, which may happen either slowly without symptoms, or quickly when symptoms may occur.

People who are most at risk of glaucoma are:

  • those aged over 40
  • people who are very short-sighted or very long sighted
  • those closely related to someone with glaucoma
  • people who are of African Caribbean descent or of south Asian or east Asian descent
  • women
  • people who have raised pressure within their eye. This is called ocular hypertension (OHT).

How will I know if I have it?

Unfortunately glaucoma often develops without any noticeable symptoms until significant vision has been lost making it one of the leading causes of blindness in the UK. However, early detection increases the chances of effective treatment, which is why it is so important to go for regular check-ups. This will allow an optometrist to spot the signs of glaucoma at the earliest possible stage.